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Friday, June 4, 2021

In a change of heart, UN hints at engagement with Rohingya at Bhasan Char

bdnews24.com
Staff Correspondent,
02 Jun 2021
Discussions are going on between the United Nations and the government of Bangladesh over the global body’s engagement in managing the Rohingya relocated to Bhasan Char island, an official of the UNHCR says.

Raouf Mazou and Gillian Triggs, assistant high commissioners at the UN refugee agency, spoke to the media in Dhaka after a meeting with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday following their trips to Bhasan Char and refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Mozou, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for operations, said the agency will continue working with the government to help the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar and other parts of Bangladesh.

Asked if the UN is engaging in the aid of the Rohingya in Bhasan Char, he said discussions were going on because the UNHCR feels that the relocated refugees need support. He could not give a timeframe of the UN’s possible involvement in Bhasan Char.

Bangladesh hosts more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who fled decades of persecution and a 2017 military crackdown in Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The government is relocating 100,000 refugees to a housing project in the remote island Bhasan Char, saying no one is relocated against their will.

The international community, including the UN, expressed concerns on the geographical position of the island vulnerable to storms and tidal waves.

The government has maintained that the refugees would be in better condition than they were in Cox’s Bazar, but the UN stayed away from the project. The recently announced joint response plan to support the Rohingya does not include those in Bhasan Char.

More than 12,000 refugees have already been relocated to the island and some of them demonstrated for several demands during the UNHCR officials’ visit on Monday. The officials visited the Cox’s Bazar camps on Tuesday.

Mazou praised the arrangements made by the government for the refugees in Bhasan Char, which he said is better than Cox’s Bazar.

“The government has made a very important investment in Bhasan Char. If one compares the living conditions in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, Bashan Char is much better. The housing that has been developed by the government are much better.

“What must be done now for us to support the government and rest of the international community those who are in Bhasan Char now and those who are going come to Bhasan Char can live in dignity,” said Mazou.

He called for efforts to ensure economic activities and movement of the Rohingya in the island, saying they would feel lonely if they stay in the island for a long time.

“One thing is clear, when you live in an island like this, you may feel isolated, you must first have economic activities and then must be able to move in and out.We must make sure the conditions are best possible, talk about education, healthcare, livelihood, to make sure they are not idle.”

The UNHCR assistant high commissioner also said the agency gives utmost priority to the repatriation of the Rohingya to their homeland Myanmar.

Triggs, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection, said they support Bangladesh on the deportation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar or a “third country”.

The Rohingya in Bhasan Char and Cox’s Bazar spoke about their dream of returning to Myanmar, she said, but added that everyone knows the hurdles in the process considering the political situation in Myanmar and the fact that their government do not want the Rohigya in the country.

“We fully support the government and your prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) and ministers’ policy that Rohingya people want to go home and they should go home or relocate to another country.

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